Jang moved out to live with our village Pentecostal church pastor, and I can’t blame him. If I had a choice, I would move too. Nothing more has been heard of Toro’s report and request to be transferred based on my assault experience. I suspect Mr. Akande must have swept things under the carpet because it wasn’t good for his reputation or that of the school.
Life goes on. The hostility between Toro and Fortuna hurts deeper than I expected. After all, we’re all strangers here and may never cross paths again after we leave. Steve shows no remorse. I heard him in Toro’s room later in the night, and they made ‘animal’ love. It leaves me totally sickened at the nauseating behaviour of these so-called adults.
They all went out the following evening. Toro and the guys to Iya Elemu, and Fortuna to Ife to visit her friend on campus.
Home alone, I pick up an old favourite from Richard North Patterson, Eyes of a Child. I’ve read it twice already, and each time seem like a new read.
I’m hardly through the first chapter when there’s a knock on my door.
There’s no response, only a knock again. I wear my trousers, and put on a shirt.
“Who is it?”
No response. I open the door anyway, and there at my door, is Bisi. I do a double take and look around. It’s dusk, and getting cold on this late November evening.
My heart thuds. What does she want? Alone, and here. I thank God the others are out. And then pray against that. I don’t trust myself alone with her.
“Good evening, sir.” She curtsies. “My mother said I bring food for you.”
“Food?” I step back. “Come in.”
I close the door behind us. I’m finding it hard to control my breathing with her so close. There’s nothing unique about her shabby clothing but her lips look soft, and her plaited hair hang around her face. She puts the nylon bag in her hand on my small table and turn toward the door.
“What did your mother cook for me?”
She turns. “Pounded yam, and vegetable soup.”
I shove my shaky hands in my pocket. “Why?”
“To tell you, thank you.” She licks her lips. “For buying drug for me.”
I lean against my wall. My legs begin to tremble too. “Ah, that’s very nice of her. And she said you should bring it for me? Alone?”
She looks down, and shrugs.
“How’s your hand?”
“Let me see it.”
Her eyes shoot up to mine. I feel so hot for her now I can’t think straight. She holds out her bandaged hand to me. I reach for it, and pull her close. Part of her wrist is wrapped too and gently, I untie the wound, angry beyond reason.
No teacher has the right to do this to a student no matter what their offence. The hand is swollen and tender. Red welts slash across upraised, two open wound. The pain she must have gone through. For a moment I consider taking pictures and do exactly what Toro did about my back, but then, I reconsider. What will come out of there in this outback?
My voice cracks. “What did you do to her to deserve this?”
I trace the wound on her hand. “She just entered the class and started beating you, she didn’t say anything?” I look at her. “And she beat only you?”
She nods. “She said I am stupid. By the time she beat me finish, no tisha go look me again.”
“No teacher will look at me again.”
I examine the wounds. It looks clean, which was what the chemist had insisted on. I wrap the hand back in the bandage.
“Was that all she said?”
“So, which teacher has been looking at you?”
She shrugs. I continue to hold her sick hand in both of mine. “You don’t know or you don’t want to tell me.”
She looks down. “I don’t know.”
I raise her chin with one hand. Her skin is just so soft. Her lips are pink and full, and so beautiful.
“Tell me,” I whisper.
She licks her lip again and I want to capture her small pink tongue before it disappears inside her mouth. My palms are near freezing now, and my temperature risen.
“The new biology tisha.”
“Steve.” I swallow hard. “What did he do to you?”
“Tosh my hair.”
At least she’s not suffered because of my altercation with Steve. “The bas—” I bite hard on my teeth. “What else did he do?”
She looks down and I bring her face back up. I’m so furious I could break Steve’s head with a bottle. What was the meaning of this?
“Tell me the truth, Bisi. Did he touch you anywhere else? Did he kiss you?”
She frowns, and in my madness and lack of self-control, I bend and take her lips with mine.
I pull her fully into my embrace, and enjoy what I have dreamed of for so long. It takes a while before I realize she’s struggling against me.
I break off but place her head on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.” I twist her locks in my fingers. “I’ve loved you from the first day I saw you, darling.”
I’m finished. How could I lose control like that? I lick my lips and capture her after-taste. I bury my head in her shoulder. Her body is full, luscious. She smells of local condiments and stew, and mixed with her female scents, I’m totally consumed by lust.
“If Steve ever comes near you again, tell me.” I don’t know what I will do. I pull back and look into her eyes. “Did he kiss you?”
She nods, and looks away. My heart crushes into a million pieces.
“What else did he do?” I smooth back her hair from her face. “Please tell me.”
I feel as bad as Steve but I am genuine, and I don’t play around. “Are you sure, Bisi?” She nods. “Bisi, if he calls you again, call me. I mean that. Don’t ever let him touch you again.”
She nods. I’m ashamed I allowed myself to be carried away. “I’m not like Steve. Do you believe that?”
She nods. I stare at her. I want to tell her I love her but hold back. I’ve said and done more than enough already.
“I have to go back,” she says.
“I will walk with you.”
I tuck in my shirt and find a novel from my wardrobe. I’d always wanted to give her a book to read because it will help her English. I have a nice collection of books used for literature and I pick So Long A Letter.
I give her the book and encourage her to read it, then I walk her close to her house, and turn back home, unable to say anything about what happened in my room tonight.